Why is motorsport banned in Switzerland?
It was roughly around the 2h mark of the Le Mans 24h race in 1955, when Frenchman Pierre Levegh lost control of his car on the start-finish straight after a collision, crashing into the main grandstand at more than 250km/h. The crash killed 85 people including Levegh and left more than 100 injured, making it one if the sports most tragic incidents.
Shortly after, heated discussions about the future of motorsports were sparked all over Europe – and especially in Switzerland. Lead by the church, the issue was brought up in government and after three years, circuit racing was officially prohibited. The ban does not include hill climbs and such, but for a country that hosted several Formula 1 races before, the government’s decision to ban public circuit racing came as a huge blow. Although the government had the right to make an exception for certain events, motorsport was basically done.
Fast forward to 2018 and Switzerland’s strict view on motor racing started to crumble. In order to allow for the Zurich Formula E race to happen, the government made use of its right to make an exception. Was this the turning point for the country’s frankly outdated view on our sport? At present, Switzerland is the only country opposed to most kinds of motor racing.
Looking at the bookings for our Track Day in Dijon in July 2020, it becomes clear that the demand for motorsport events, especially Track Days is high. There is even a petition running at the moment to get the topic in front of the government to consider lifting the ban.
Nevertheless, is it going to change much in a country that doesn't have any racetracks to race on, even if the ban is lifted? Building a race track - even if it's just for Track Day driving an no larger official events - usually leads to intense discussions with local communities, climate activists and politicians.
A recent example is the relativly new Bilster Berg Driving Resort in Germany. Even though only used for Track Days and Marketingevents, the operators are facing resentment by the local community, politicians and activists. While most arguments evolve around noise emissions, people start to raise the question whether motor sports in general is still relevant in our modern times.
So would lifting the ban on motorsport really change a lot for Track Day drivers in Switzerland or will it just help getting some large scale events like a Formula E race on Swiss ground?
Let us know in the comments below!
Sources: NZZ, Tagesanzeiger, Wikipedia